Starring Ricky Gervais, Tea Leoni, Greg Kinnear
Directed by David Koepp
Paramount Home Entertainment
Release Date: December 27, 2008
When I first saw the trailer for Dreamworks’ film Ghost Town on television, I immediately assumed it as another example of a popular TV star making a crappy movie for a big paycheck. I don’t know about you but watching Ricky Gervais gag because of a smelly dog is not funny to me, but maybe I was the wrong target audience for the film. Having just been released on DVD and Blu-ray, I thought I’d give it a try and it turns out the movie’s only mistake was hiring whoever created those terrible trailers.
Ghost Town centers around dentist Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais). Pincus is not the nicest nor the most social guy around and it shows in his lack of friends and loved ones. After Pincus unexpectedly dies for a brief moment during a routine surgery, he begins to see dead people. News of someone alive being able to see the dead passes quickly through the ghost community, resulting in ghosts showing up at Pincus’ doorstep. One of the ghosts, Frank (Greg Kinnear), makes Pincus a promise. If Pincus helps Frank’s widow, Gwen (Tea Leoni), Frank will make all the ghosts stop bothering him. Things, of course, go south and Pincus ends up questioning his past, present, and future.
Now, do not let the trailers fool you. This is not a movie resting on smelly dog jokes. It is actually a really honest and heartfelt romantic comedy. I can only guess that Dreamworks was not too confident on the idea of Gervais as a potential romantic lead and I have to admit it, it is not always smooth sailing.
Gervais is entertaining as the socially awkward, brutally honest Pincus and when Pincus does fall for Leoni’s Gwen, I can’t say it was not an odd pairing. I didn’t really believe the Gervais/Leoni pairing was realistic at first but something strange happened during their movie courtship: their relationship seems to grow before your eyes. It is not so much about how they look but rather how connected they are on an emotional level. Both Pincus and Gwen have been hurt emotionally in the past by a former lover and it is this one shared experience that gives birth to their relationship. So while Gervais and Leoni seem like an odd couple on the outside, watching their relationship bloom on an emotional level is one of the most realistic experiences I have seen in an unrealistic movie.
David Koepp, one of the writers of the first Spider-Man movie, pens a pretty entertaining movie, full of laughs and emotions. The comedy is subtle but entertaining and while I never fell on the floor laughing, I would rather have small light chuckles over the course of the whole movie rather than see big jokes that fall flat.
This blu-ray edition is stacked pretty much with the same features as the regular DVD. There is a making of featurette, blooper reel, and a feature on the special effects. The featurette is light and fluffy as usual but I had the most issues with the bloopers and the special effects. The bloopers are just a compilation of Gervais laughing hysterically. Now, I am a major believer of laughter being infectious but watching Gervais flub and laugh his way through scenes was just plain annoying. The special effects feature, which was just a silent film reel of how they filmed the special effects scenes, was also questionable. I also had an issue with the film presentation — the film was in widescreen and I figured since it was a Blu-ray disc, they would contain both versions but it appears to only have the full screen version. Now, this is just a personal preference but if you are like me and like seeing your film widescreen style, the Blu-ray might not be for you.
Features and presentation aside, Ghost Town is a real film treat. The characters are likable and the story is sweet. It is a perfect date movie for a girl who wants to see a romantic comedy and the guy who likes to laugh.